Sociology of Science and Technology


This seminar is based on the premise that knowledge and technology have become central to the political and cultural organisation of modern societies. This seminar's fundamental goal is to develop tools to understand both the social organisation of science and the technoscientific dimensions of social life. Although much of the actual course content concerns science and technology, the theoretical and analytical frameworks developed in this course are intended to apply to any domain involving knowledge, expertise or technical tools.

By examining the social, cultural, political and material dimensions of knowledge production, the seminar provides a broad introduction to sociological perspectives within Science & Technology Studies (STS).

While being sensitive to the interdisciplinary character of STS, we will emphasise the following questions

  • What have been the dominant approaches to the sociological study of science and technology? What are the different schools that have developed? How do they differ from each other? What kinds of questions do they ask? What theories and analytical tools do they offer?
  • How do these various approaches help us understand topics such as the organisation of intellectual work, the politics of knowledge production, the design and dissemination of technologies, the character of "knowledge" societies," the relations between laypeople and experts, the tensions between expertise and democracy, the measurement and management of technological risk and the nature of governance in technologically sophisticated societies?
  • How might sociology as a field of study benefit from a closer engagement both with epistemic concerns and with the material aspects of our technosocial world?

Although many of the themes we will address have a long history, the emphasis will be on intellectual developments of the last several decades. The course focuses largely (but not exclusively) on Western industrialised countries. However, when possible, we will place the developments in the global context. While much of the scholarship we will cover is sociological, some will be drawn from other fields. Students from other disciplines are welcome.

Availability 2024

Not taught in 2024


Coordinator(s) Dr Manuel Vallee


SOCIOL 745: 30 points